Editor's Note: Embedded below is a blast from the past—a PubliColaTV interview with Moon back in July 2010.
Cary Moon is most notable for leading the People's Waterfront Coalition's crusade against the SR 99 tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Now the urban planner, engineer, and civic activist is facing a new challenge: Running for mayor, and standing out as a strong progressive challenger in a crowded field of 21 candidates, with no experience in elected office.
"My style is speak softly and carry a big stick," Moon told PubliCola. "I have experience bringing people together toward a common vision. I have experience running an organization. And to me, leadership and building shared commitment...is as important as political experience."
The Michigan native got her start in Seattle 20 years ago when she began helping the city plan the Pioneer Square neighborhood. As soon as she announced her campaign, she immediately had an ambitious goal prepared on housing: increasing the city's affordable housing stock fourfold through improved tenants' rights, and uses of public and nonprofit housing strategies. And Moon's plan for her first 100 days in office, released Thursday, offers a slew of ideas with even more details—analyzing the impact of speculators on Seattle's housing market, more taxes like another real estate excise tax on luxury property and capital gains tax on sales of non-primary residences, and property tax relief, to name a few.
Moon, who announced her candidacy early on April 19, has placed herself far left in Seattle's politics, like when she criticized the Seattle Chamber of Commerce after it endorsed Jenny Durkan. She came out swinging against Mayor Ed Murray when he dropped his reelection bid in May; both she and Mike McGinn called for him to go further and resign. But she's now competing for progressive votes among a slate of high-profile, qualified candidates: She appeals to urbanist voters alongside Jessyn Farrell. Her civic activism likens her to McGinn. (They were both staunch opponents to the waterfront's tunneling project.) She's aligned herself with Nikkita Oliver on social justice causes.
Despite Moon's challenges in standing out, she has secured sizable support. She may not have received the endorsement of elected officials. (Mike O'Brien donated to both Moon and Oliver campaigns back in May, and ultimately chose to back Oliver.) But she did receive major endorsements like The Stranger's editorial board (though four dissented to support Oliver), The Urbanist, and Seattle Subway.
"It's true, we're biased," the Stranger's Election Control Board wrote. "But we fawn over Moon because she's smart and she has vision—and this city needs brainy, visionary leadership."
Having pledged to match all grassroots contributions dollar for dollar in May and June—and to not take corporate donations—she's poured more money into her campaign ($90,500 out of the total $144,000 raised) than other mayoral candidates. Moon said she doesn't want to spend her campaign time asking people for money because that's "what's wrong with politics." She cares deeply about the city, she said, so she wants to spend her money on the campaign.
"I recognize the privilege in that, but I'm so committed to solutions that work for the well-being of everyone and being a constructive part of shaping the city's future," she told PubliCola. "I know I'm very lucky to be able to do it."
Moon has been vocal lately about the need for racial justice in the city and said she feels "a lot of resonance with Nikkita's call for transformation," urging a look at issues with a race and social equity lens. She said the city needs to ensure the Community Police Commission is fully funded, and that the city needs a greater commitment to police training on racism and crisis intervention. She opposes the King County new youth jail and supports De-Escalate Washington, a new initiative that would remove no "malice" as a defense for police deadly force. But she acknowledged she's not "a leader of that movement" like Oliver.
"She has done heroic work with the black community and all people of color to bring these issues to the forefront and force everyone to address them," Moon said. "I think we're in our 21st century civil rights moment in Seattle, and now is the time to make transformative changes."
At times, though, Moon has fallen short of concrete ideas on that front (police reform, Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs), and she's not as critical of police chief Kathleen O'Toole as vocal people of color, including both Oliver and Bob Hasegawa. She did propose trying to implement citywide racial bias training; more racial, class and gender balance at the city's decision-making tables and departments; and programs for young people of color. She said she also wants to address the gender pay gap immediately at the city level.
"I'm completely committed to this city being the best example of a progressive city that cares about the well-being of everyone," she said. "The vision, and bold solutions, and determination that I feel are different than politics as usual."
Updated on July 21, 2017, at 3:02pm: This post includes a quote from the Stranger's endorsement.